The election of Donald Trump as US president has generated superficial comparisons with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. But one key factor in both leaders’ success is a fragmented and polarized opposition that is unable to project alternative leaders or policies. The tone and manner of opposition politics are made more extreme by their own sense of entitlement, and are pushed further left by bullying from the elected leadership. Without civic education and new, more centrist leaders, American politics will continue to resemble that of Israel, to the detriment of effective democracy.
On the 100th anniversary of the Balfour Declaration, the Palestinians have launched a campaign calling for an official British apology and compensation. This effort illustrates the ways in which honor, internationalization, symbolism, and playing on Western guilt shape the Palestinian culture of denial, which impedes progress towards either a stable Palestinian state or peace with Israel.
The BDS movement against Israel is a microcosm of the global Left. Both are political religions that sanctify secular entities and demonize their opponents, weaponizing liberal principles in order to create retributive “justice.” The BDS movement fuses Muslim and Communist antipathy towards Jewish difference and indeed to Jewish existence, embodied in Israel.